Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore said he will use the recognition of winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prizeto "change the world's consciousness" about the challenges of global warming.

"I will accept this award on behalf of all of those who have been working so long and so hard to try and get the message out about this planetary emergency," Gore told reporters Friday in Palo Alto, Calif.

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Al Gore said he's 'deeply honoured' to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. ((Alessandro della Valle/Associated Press/Keystone))

TheNorwegian Nobel committee announced the award Friday in Oslo,saying in a written statementthat Gore and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have worked tirelessly "to disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

Gore, 59,said he will donate hishalf of the $1.5-million US prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a non-profit organization devoted to conveying the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

"We have to quickly find a way to change the world's consciousness about what exactly we're facing, and why we have to work to solve it," he said.

"I'm going back to work right now. This is just the beginning."

Theformer U.S. presidential candidate did not take questions from reporters following his brief statement, which could fuel speculation of a possible 2008 White House run amid several "Draft Gore" campaigns circulating in the Democratic party ranks.

Gorehas made headlines as a vocal environmentalist in recent years, spreading the word about climate changethrough his public lectures, his book and his Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

"Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmental politicians," the Nobel committee said in its statement. "His strong commitment, reflected in his political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change.

"He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."

UN panel reports praised

The Nobel Committee praised the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forthe high-profile reports it has produced that are backed by thousands of scientists from more than 100 countries.

"The IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming," the committee said.

The climate change panel has predicted average worldwide annual temperatures would increase between 1.8 and four degrees Celsius over the next century, and that sea levels would rise between 18 and 59 centimetres over the same period.

It also called the proof of global warming "unequivocal" and said the root cause was "very likely" the result of human-produced greenhouse gas emissions.

John Drexhage, a Canadian scientist who has worked on the IPCC reports, said he was shocked and humbled to learn the organization had won the peace prize.

"It speaks to the very strong and tireless efforts of hundreds of scientists who've been working to look at this issue in as an objective and even-handed manner as possible and coming to the conclusions that we have," he told CBC News from his home in Gatineau, Que.

"It points to the growing concern globally in what man is doing to the environment."

The Nobel committee said that in awarding the peace prize to IPCC and Gore, it hoped to draw attention to the issue of climate change and the threat it poses to the future security of mankind.

"Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man's control," the committee said.

Iqaluitenvironmentalist was nominated

Canadian Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Iqaluit-based environmental activist, was also nominated for this year's prize and had been considered one of the favourites to win. Her work has focused on the effects of global warming on northern communities.

"She has done so much work representing the interests of her people, the people in the North," Drexhage said.

Watt-Cloutier said she wasdelighted to see environmentalists take the Peace Prize.

"For me, the issue has won and, in fact, our own planet Earth was a winner in all this," she told CBC News on Friday.

She said she was slightly disappointed she didn't win herself, as that would have raised more awareness about Arctic issues and the human side of global warming.

She and Gore were nominated by Norwegian MPs Boerge Brende and Heidi Soerensen.

Pearson won on Oct. 12, 1957

The Nobel Prizeis named after Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite, who established theaward in his will.

Nobel Prizes have been awarded since 1901 for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. A separateaward for economics was established in 1968 and first awarded a year later.

Former prime minister Lester B. Pearson is the only Canadian to win the Nobel Peace Prize —on Oct. 12,1957, for his creation of the United Nations peacekeeping force during the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Other winners have included former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and formerIsraeli prime ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, who shared the prize in 1994, former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1993, and Mother Teresa, who worked with India's poor, in 1979.

The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize went to Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded, which has loaned more than $5 billion US to the poor.

Corrections

  • It was originally suggested that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was the only recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. In fact, Arafat shared the award with former Israeli prime ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.
    Oct 12, 2007 8:11 PM ET
With files from the Associated Press